Sunday, 26 June 2022
Wimbledon Tennis Day 1 Picks 2022 (June 27th)
And just like that, the third Grand Slam of the 2022 Tennis season is set to begin.
It feels like only yesterday we were dealing with the 'will he or won't he?' drama at the Australian Open surrounding Novak Djokovic's participation, but now we are more than halfway through the season.
Rafael Nadal has been the player who benefited the most from Djokovic's absence in Melbourne as he won his 21st Grand Slam title to move ahead of the Serb and Roger Federer, but he then doubled down by winning in Paris and the Calendar Slam remains a possibility.
In reality I think it will be very difficult, especially with the Nadal half of the draw loaded with the grass court threats that Novak Djokovic has avoided. The defending Champion has not lost a match at Wimbledon since 2017 having won the titles here in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win a seventh title in SW19 to move alongside Pete Sampras and Federer.
He can play his way into the tournament and I think he will be the player to beat, although Matteo Berrettini may feel he can go one better than last season when beaten by Djokovic in the Final. That could be the Final in 2022 and I do think the Italian will be happier with his potential route to the Final much more than Rafael Nadal who heads up the bottom half of the draw.
A dark horse to make the big breakthrough could be Felix Auger-Aliassime and at around 16-1 I do think he will give you a real run for your money. However, the draw could have been much kinder with Maxime Cressy first up for the Canadian fresh off his run to the Eastbourne Final, and the likes of Taylor Fritz, Marin Cilic and Nadal make up a tough Quarter.
Iga Swiatek has quickly established herself as the best player in the world on the WTA side of the Tour since Ashleigh Barty abruptly retired and the World Number 1 is a clear favourite to win the Wimbledon title to add to the French Open crown won earlier this month.
The lack of grass court tennis to prepare is a bit of a concern for someone who is playing for just the third time at Wimbledon and who has previously lost in the First Round and the Fourth Round. There is a mental edge that Swiatek will hold over the rest of the field, but I think someone like Alize Cornet could be a potential problem in the Third Round as long as she has overcome whatever she was dealing with at the end of her Semi Final in Bad Homburg last week (I think it was cramp rather than anything more sinister).
There are some big names that could also be waiting to end the Iga Swiatek winning run, but most of those will be avoided until the Semi Final at the earliest, by which time Swiatek could be in supreme form.
Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and a returning Serena Williams are all potential Semi Final opponents and all of those have won the Wimbledon title so know what it takes for grass court success.
Cori Gauff is another player who has shown she is well adept at playing on the grass and coming out of that Quarter of the draw will be a huge challenge. It may also mean Iga Swiatek is in a position to sweep off her Semi Final opponent if they have been taxed as much as they may be before they reach that final four stage.
The headlines will be initially all about Serena Williams and I do think the draw has given her a chance to play her way into the tournament. The early Rounds are not that intimidating and the American looked to be moving pretty well in Eastbourne, albeit with the help of a Doubles partner.
It would be the story of all stories if Williams was to return and win the tournament, but I think she will end up coming up short either in the Third or Fourth Round.
It feels like a top loaded draw at Wimbledon in the Ladies Singles, but there are some serious names in the bottom who will feel they have benefited from avoiding those mentioned.
Angelique Kerber is a former Champion here and continues to play strong grass court tennis, while Beatriz Haddad Maia has been the form grass court player of the summer and could not have hand-picked a much better draw for herself.
The Brazilian may have to deal with a solid grass courter in Belinda Bencic in the Third Round, but the latter had to withdraw from Berlin with an injury and may not be at 100%. With Anett Kontaveit the highest Seed in the Quarter, Beatriz Haddad Maia has to feel she has all of the tools to go very deep and I fully expect her to have her best ever Grand Slam result having never made it to the Third Round previously.
Beating Bencic may really open things up for Beatriz Haddad Maia, while I also think Jelena Ostapenko has a real opportunity here as a former Wimbledon Semi Finalist.
All of the journalists will be looking at Emma Raducanu, but injury and an awful First Round draw makes it hard to believe she can have as deep a run as 2021.
The favourite to come out of the section and reach the Final is Ons Jabeur, but she did not deal with the pressure very well in Paris, and I do wonder if she can cope this time. She does have a couple of Quarter Final runs at Grand Slams under her belt, but I think she is short enough as the second favourite to win the Wimbledon title.
Purely on the odds, Angie Kerber looks a massive price at 33-1 to win the title here and I certainly think she could have a very strong run having reached the Semi Final here last season and twice reaching the Final.
Novak Djokovic - 9.5 games v Soon Woo Kwon: It has been a difficult season for Novak Djokovic beginning with the debacle around his participation at the Australian Open, while some of his team were a little critical of his performance in losing the French Open Quarter Final against Rafael Nadal.
He is the top Seed at Wimbledon in the third Grand Slam of the season after the decision had been made to ban Daniil Medvedev (and the other Russian and Belarusian players on the Tour), while Alexander Zverev misses out with an injury suffered in the French Open Semi Final. Novak Djokovic may feel he deserves his spot at the top of the Men's draw having won the Wimbledon title in each of the last three runnings of the event and he has won twenty-one straight matches in this part of London.
The Serb played an exhibition event last week to prepare for Wimbledon, but Novak Djokovic decided to avoid playing any competitive grass court tennis before opening Centre Court on Monday. While some players may need some time to get used to playing on the grass, it hasn't really affected Novak Djokovic in the past and he didn't play any warm up events before winning the title here in 2021.
He did drop the first set of his First Round match against young British hope Jack Draper twelve months ago, but Djokovic breezed through the next three sets. That was one of just two sets dropped at Wimbledon in 2021 and I do think we will see Novak Djokovic break into his stride pretty quickly on a court he will feel is his own these days.
First up for the top Seed is Soon Woo Kwon who has dropped into World Number 75 and who has been well beaten in both grass court matches played in preparation for Wimbledon. Soon Woo Kwon has struggled with his serve on the grass in those defeats with just 56% of service points won and that has led to holds in under 60% of service games played.
On a surface like grass, that is a pretty poor number, although I do think Soon Woo Kwon is a better server than he has shown in his defeats to Christopher O'Connell and Hugo Gaston this summer.
The serve has been put under pressure when Soon Woo Kwon has faced a top 50 opponent on the Tour in 2022 and the big problem for him is trying to recover breaks of serve. On the face of things you may not consider Novak Djokovic to be one of the top servers on the Tour, but it is a potent weapon for him and I do think the defending Champion is going to be putting this opponent under an immense amount of pressure during this match.
Novak Djokovic and Soon Woo Kwon met on the clay courts last season and the former crushed his opponent with five breaks of serve and only facing a single break point. Early Rounds of a Grand Slam can be difficult to cover numbers of this size on the handicap, but Novak Djokovic has won his last three First Round matches at Wimbledon by margins of 12, 8 and 11 game margins.
I am expecting Djokovic to earn the multiple breaks of serve needed to cover this mark and he can put down a marker as he begins the defence of the Wimbledon title for a fourth time in a row.
Andy Murray - 5.5 games v James Duckworth: The injury sustained in Stuttgart looked to have come at a very bad time for Andy Murray after a couple of impressive weeks on the grass courts. He had decided to skip much of the clay court season in order to be well prepared for Wimbledon and reached the Final in Surbiton and Stuttgart and looked well on the way to being Seeded in SW19.
The injury in the Final in Stuttgart meant Murray had to withdraw from the tournament in Queens and some felt he may even be forced to miss Wimbledon, which would have been a major blow for the former World Number 1. The tennis looked to be in a good place in his two grass court tournaments and the positive noises coming from the camp have to be encouraging for Murray who has landed in a decent portion of the draw.
A big question for Andy Murray is whether the serve has been affected by the injury- he had been winning 70% of points behind serve and holding in 91% of service games played on the grass and the former Wimbledon Champion will be the first to admit how important it will be to serve well if he is going to have a real impact in the tournament.
At his best, Andy Murray was a hugely successful return player, but he has only been breaking in 18% of return games played on the grass this season. That is a mark that is someway below his 2021 numbers, and it is definitely an area that Andy Murray will want to improve here.
The First Round sees Murray paired with James Duckworth who has been plenty successful on the grass courts himself, albeit at a different kind of level than Andy Murray. This season has been a little disappointing for James Duckworth having lost three matches in a row before Qualifying for Eastbourne and being beaten in the First Round of the main draw there.
His defeats to Paul Jubb and Gilles Simon are particularly disheartening and James Duckworth has struggled with his return on the surface, while holding 83% of service games played. The problem for the Australian is that his numbers have largely been built around playing opponents outside the top 50 of the World Rankings and I expect him to have some reservations about playing an opponent like Andy Murray.
Their two previous matches have been won by the British player relatively comfortably.
Both of those were played a long time ago, but it was clear that Andy Murray was able to exert a lot of pressure on James Duckworth thanks to the serve and return. While his return has not been at the level of old on the grass in 2022, I do think the best of five set format gives Andy Murray a chance to build the pressure on James Duckworth over the course of this First Round match and the spread looks to be a game or two lower than where I had it.
MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 9.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Casper Ruud - 5.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Thiago Monteiro - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Frances Tiafoe - 5.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Daniel Altmaier @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Ryan Peniston - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
David Goffin - 1.5 Sets @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Alexander Bublik - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Beatriz Haddad Maia - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Sorana Cirstea - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Julie Niemeier - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Martina Trevisan - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Yanina Wickmayer - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)